14 September 2016

How to keep your money safe when shopping online

We’ve asked our Fraud Team to share their top tips for avoiding online swindles so you can shop with confidence, whether you’re booking a luxury holiday – or just doing the weekly grocery shop.

At Nationwide, we safeguard your money, your personal information and your privacy when you use our products, such as our credit and debit cards to shop online. But it’s also important that you take steps of your own to reduce your chances of falling victim to fraud.

About three out of every four people shopped online in 2015, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. You might prefer to go to a real shop, which is highlighted as the main reason for not buying online, but you may also be among the 26% concerned about payment security or privacy. We have some tips for how you can stay safe when making purchases on the internet.

Eight tips to stay safe online

Being a regular online shopper might make you more comfortable with the process, but it doesn’t necessarily make you any less vulnerable to fraud, says Nationwide's Group Head of Fraud, Stuart Skinner. ‘Savvy-shoppers are just as likely to fall victim to online fraud as first-timers,’ he says. ‘Thankfully, following simple security steps can reduce the risk and help fend off the fraudsters.’

1. Be sure it’s secure

Before you enter your personal or card details, check for:

  • The padlock symbol in the browser window frame. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself, this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.

  • The web address should begin with prefix ‘https://’, in which the ‘s’ stands for secure.

2. Do your retail research

It’s best to shop from familiar brands, but if you would like to buy an item from a company you haven’t heard of, make sure that you:

  • Read reviews that other buyers have left

  • Ask around to see if any family members, friends or colleagues who may have used it before

  • Get a site rating from free checks like Norton Safe Web

  • Are wary of offers that seem too good to be true

3. Know when to use credit

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, paying by credit card can give you free protection on purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 if a supplier breaches the contract or misrepresents the goods or services you’ve bought from them.

You may find that paying by credit card costs a little more than using your debit card, for example when you buy flights, so it’s a good idea to understand when Section 75 applies.

4. Don’t overshare in public

The fact that many hotels, airports and cafés offer free Wi-Fi is a little luxury that’s great for checking the football score or finding a good spot for dinner. Your information will be less secure than on a home network, however, so it’s best to:

  • Avoid making financial transactions and entering passwords, credit card numbers or other financial information

  • Turn off file-sharing when connecting to a public network.

5. Choose when to be direct

Avoid paying for goods via direct bank transfer, unless you know the person well or you can confirm that the company is reputable.

6. Be a password pro

Despite warnings from security experts, more than half (55%) of adult internet users admit to using the same password for most sites, according to Ofcom. It’s tempting to go for a couple of easy-to-remember ones, such as family member’s birthdays or your favourite sports team, but to keep passwords strong:

  • Choose a password that is not traceable to you, for example your best friend’s favourite band or best friend’s maiden name

  • Consider replacing letters with special characters and using capitals to make it even more difficult to hack

  • Choose a phrase, quote or line of poetry that you know well and select the first – or last – letter from each word to make a nonsense word

  • Get Safe Online also recommends avoiding ascending or descending numerical sequences, duplicated numbers or easily recognisable keypad patters (such as 14789).

7. Look after your PC

Run up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer to keep your PC free from malware and other infections.

8. Check your statements

Regularly checking your bank statements can help you to pick up on signs of fraud early, particularly as criminals often make a small withdrawal or purchase to test what they can get away with.

Have you been a victim of fraud?

If you’re a Nationwide customer, call us immediately on the following numbers:

Current account fraud
0800 464 3051 (UK) or + 44 1793 65 67 89 (abroad)

Credit card fraud
0800 055 6611 (UK) or +44 2476 43 89 97 (abroad)

You can also report fraud, including attempted fraud, and get a police number with Action Fraud.

If we suspect fraud

At Nationwide, we take fraud very seriously. Our Financial Crime Department will contact you via automated text and voice calls, or phone you to check your answers to security questions and hear about what has happened.

Note: Your bank should never ask you for your PIN, card reader passcode or ask you to transfer money to another account for safekeeping.

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Nationwide is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites. Nationwide does not make any recommendation or endorse any advertising, products, services or other content on such external websites. Views expressed on third party websites are those of the public and unless specifically stated, are not those of Nationwide.

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